After a series of traumatic incidents I recently decided to delete all dating apps from my life.
Now, I feel like I should preface this by saying that I am by no means a hopeless romantic searching for that perfect, earth shaking, whirlwind love (whatever the hell those words even mean). I am not what you see in Nicholas Sparks’ novels. However, I’m also not a cynic and I would rather not spend my days waking up hungover with a bag of cheese puffs in my bed. But, being a mildly socially awkward single person between the ages of 21-30 and entering the professional world, I found that there was little time or opportunity to meet people outside a professional setting. More than that I had a lot of nerves about leaving the college dating culture and entering the “real world”. The quality and quantity of fish in the sea had just changed drastically.
I decided to take things into my own hands. Mostly because I now have more work than I ever thought possible and would rather not have some drunken ex-frat bro rub up against me all night at some bar my high school friends still hang out at. The obvious first step was clearly to try out the entire selection of popular dating apps available on the iTunes app store. Here’s my story:
I started with Bumble. It’s your regular swipe right for yes swipe left for no situation except there’s a catch. If you match with someone, only the girl can start the conversation. The other interesting aspect was that your matches expire after 24 hours if you don’t start the conversation. That detail really helped ease my social anxiety (not that I’m telling you how to do you bumble creators). I had high hopes for Bumble. I liked it because I was in control. For once I knew that the conversation was not going to start with some stupid sexual pick-up line. I thought this new Bumble craze was going to be great. I had the control to drive it away from the predictable dumb line alluding to some self-deprecating one-night-stand.
I wanted to come off “witty” so naturally I overthought every message I sent. How do I make this person think I am interesting or funny? Most of the time I went with casual “Heyy!” (Emphasis on the double y’s because apparently that’s flirty). But other times when my social ineptitude was showing, and I knew the person, I went with possibly the worst conversation starter there is: “hahahah”. Yes that is a true story, and yes that was the best I could do.
You basically get one line to “catch” someone’s attention, and for what? So you can talk about what you majored in college and what you want to do with your life? And that’s the best-case scenario and IF the person answers. We drive ourselves absolutely crazy trying to get into the mind of another person. I kept trying to say the perfect thing, unaware that maybe that metaphorical concept didn’t exist in the technological dating world. I could only do what I do best, make the whole thing incredibly awkward or just ignore it altogether.
This was supposed to be a dating app but most of my matches were “expiring” because I was scared of making the first move. I liked that it forced me to start but I hated that it made me second-guess myself. Whatever I would have said couldn’t be good enough. I don’t want to have to think that hard about a conversation, or about anything really. So naturally Tinder was the next move.
The whole Tinder craze is mostly a joke now because its mostly just dick picks and sketchballs, but why not give it one last chance? If I were to get a dollar for every time someone started a conversation with something along the lines of “you want this D?” I think I would be able to pay off all my student loans. And I’m now in Law school.
I was ready to swipe. The first person’s picture (I swear this is true) was of his BANK STATEMENT! Obvious swipe left, rejection. Soon after, a guy holding a chainsaw appeared…swipe left. Sadly the third attempt wasn’t much better, just a guy taking a shirtless mirror selfie. What is it we are trying to convey to other people? That you have money? That you might be serial killer? We always act like we are on these apps and sites to connect with people but the whole initial reaction is based on such a superficial means.
Last week a friend of mine told me he had to show me a picture and upon looking at his phone I saw a screenshot of my own tinder profile. Which is a picture that, if I’m going to be honest, looks nothing like me. I looked at the picture and laughed uncomfortably as I realized how embarrassed of myself I was.
I thought to myself, why am I doing this? Why am I putting such a fake image out to these people? It seems ass-backwards to try to establish some sort of relationship using the most insincere means possible. As someone who’s naturally more guarded, I’m not going to expose intimate details about myself to someone via a messaging app where you don’t even know if the person on the other end is real or telling the truth.
What’s more likely to happen on Tinder is that that you’ll ask me what I’m interested in and I’ll tell you the interests that I deem cool enough to share. I’ll probably tell you the one I think will make me look cultured or smart or whatever it is I’m trying to convey. Things that aren’t me but things I filter to tell a stranger because I don’t really want to let them know the real me. After all you’re a guy behind a screen, a potential psycho or a catfish or maybe a woman.
How can someone really actually make a connection based solely on appearance? Attraction is more than just looks to me. Its personality, it’s the way you react to people around you, it’s what you think is funny. And yeah, initial attraction is important. But what makes a person actually stay around?
Overall, I think the idea behind a dating app is pretty cool. I like that it makes you put yourself outside your comfort zone. And while it statistically can lead to it, it isn’t solely just a sloppy, embarrassing random hook-up that you WILL regret in the morning. But like a lot of other forms of technology we find ourselves addicted to, dating apps are mindless. You can literally sit in class and swipe left and right all day. You just have to decide if that person has a good-looking face. That’s it. There is no substance. People will say this is just the first step, and you’re supposed to also match with people you have common interests with. But we all know that’s bullshit.
A guy on a dating app will never know the hideous laugh I can’t hide when I’m with my best friends. A guy on a dating app will never know that I despise high heels and slow drivers. A guy on a dating app will never know that I love to dance. A guy on a dating app will never know me.